Collectibles, vintage items bring visitors
Winchester — Northern Virginia residents visit the Shenandoah Valley for lots of reasons, but shopping isn’t always at the top of the list.
But antiques, collectibles, and vintage items bring people from the Washington area to the Valley.
Michele Bouve Hoffman, owner of the Stock Exchange at 120 E. Piccadilly St. in Winchester, specializes in “vintage hip” furniture, clothing, jewelry, art and accessories.
“I have people that come from Northern Virginia because they’re looking for vintage-hip, which is an eclectic mix of old and new,” Hoffman said, who opened her store June 9.
One reason antiques and vintage collectors like the Shenandoah Valley is that prices here tend to be lower than they are in the Washington area, she said.
“The prices (at the Stock Exchange) are really reasonable,” Hoffman said. “They’re not like antiques prices.”
She pointed out a glass cabinet for $99 and a distressed oak table for $190. A secondhand wedding gown was priced at $50.
“I had a customer who said, ‘This shop is just like (a store) in Old Town Alexandria, but with much better prices,’” Hoffman said.
With numerous antiques shops, Main Street in Front Royal attracts tourists from the city in search of furnishings with a certain rustic charm.
“This time of year is very touristy, so we have a lot of people from out of state,” said Barbara Dumire, owner of Ole Timer’s Antiques & Collectibles at 220 E. Main St. in Front Royal.
Young professionals buying antiques for second homes in Front Royal also make up some of her customer base.
“They want their furniture to be more comfortable and casual,” Dumire said.
Joan King of Stafford has been a customer at Ole Timer’s Antiques & Collectibles for about four years.
She furnished her daughter’s Linden home with items purchased from the store.
“I used to live in a log home,” King said. “I’m from New York and I like the country and antiques.”
Although she has looked in antiques stores in downtown Fredericksburg, King said she returns to Dumire’s shop because she likes the prices, furnishings and Dumire’s personality.
“When you know the person and the prices, you just tend to go back to where you’re happy,” King said.
The trend of refurbishing older pieces of furniture is adding to the popularity of antiques stores, said Janet Michael of Java Media, a marketing consultant who works with Dumire.
“It’s recycling at its prettiest,” Michael said.
Dumire’s store sells jewelry, furniture, primitives, country-style accessories, Victorian pieces and trains.
Custom-made farm tables are among the most popular items in the store.
“That’s been my specialty since I opened,” she said. “That’s probably our main piece of furniture.”
With several antiques stores on Main Street in Front Royal, finding a niche is a key component of success, Dumire said.
Aside from the farm tables, country-style accessories are also very popular, Dumire said.
“I have a lot of people who come in every week to see what the new country pieces are,” she said.
Her advice to people who are new to antiquing is to “take whatever room is most important to you and completely do it.”
New homeowners often buy big-ticket items for different rooms first, such as a sofa, then a bed. But for a cohesive look, Dumire said, try to finish at least one room.
A house doesn’t need to be furnished in wall-to-wall antiques to look good.
“It makes the eye travel more if everything in a room does not match,” Dumire said.
She recalled one customer in Northern Virginia who had an antique in every room of her otherwise very modern house.
“The whole house was glass,” Dumire said. “You don’t have to have an old house to put antiques in. I tell people, ‘Put in your house what puts a smile on your face.’”
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